Monday, 16 April 2012

Ninety Years Ago… Has it Been That Long?

April 15 marked something of a historic event for Greenock Morton. No, it did not mark the clubs return to the Scottish Premier League (although in this supporters mind, it would have). However what it did mark, was the ninety year anniversary of the clubs unexpected one nil victory over Glasgow Rangers in the 1992 Scottish Cup Final at Hampden.

The name Greenock Morton only appears once on the trophy, having failed to celebrate at Hampden since that historic day in 1922. This is not for lack of trying though, the club have flirted with the cup over the years, bringing supporters agonisingly close to seeing their heroes hoist the glistening silverware in to the air one more time. It appeared that the club were destined to win the trophy in 1948, playing Rangers (once again) in the final. Unfortunately luck was not on their side that day. Many supporters will speak fondly of the clubs run to the 1963 League Cup Final, unfortunately that was not to end happily as they were on the receiving end of a sound thrashing by a lethal Glasgow Rangers side.

Yet, the club have given us some historic moments in the competition over the years. Many fans eyes will light up with glee when they think back to 2007 and the clubs stellar home performance against Kilmarnock at Cappielow where Chris Templeman played quite possibly his best game in the blue and white hoops. One year later, the club were to provide a moment of cup glory where they beat Hibernian by three goals to one at Easter Road.

However, this season with the tournament in its final stages and the finalists decided, it looks like the club will have to wait one more year to get their hands on the trophy. Until then, allow us to regale you with the tale of 1922:

Morton beat Vale of Leithen, Clydebank, Clyde, Motherwell and Aberdeen on their amazing journey to the 1922 Scottish Cup Final at Hampden, where they were set to take on Glasgow Rangers.

Morale and confidence were running low within the Morton Side during the run up to the game, even so much that they didn’t have any plans to return to Greenock after the game. Instead, convinced that they would be defeated, Morton planned to head straight to England to play a friendly match against Hartlepools United.

The team and supporters received a further blow to their confidence when it was announced that their top goal scorer, George French, would not be playing. French had sustained an injury in a previous game and had not yet recovered. The team on the day consisted of: Edwards, McIntyre and Brown; Gourlay, Wright and McGregor (Captain); McNab and Mckay, Buchanan, A. Brown and McMinn.

Seventy five thousand fans gathered at Hampden for the big game, many of them supporters from Greenock who had travelled there on the many trains and vehicles organised for the big event.

Despite Mortons worries, Rangers were not playing at their best in the early stages, this was made even worse when the Ibrox side were reduced to ten men, and with the substitution rule not implemented yet, it appeared as if Rangers were going to have to dig deep to get the victory expected of them. Soon after the first ten minutes had passed, Morton were granted a direct free kick after the Rangers goalkeeper carried the ball over the eighteen yard line. Morton’s luck took a turn for the better as Jimmy Gourlay came to take the free kick. When he calmly took his shot, he drove it in to the top corner of the Rangers net with deadly accuracy. (Side note, this was the first goal to come from a direct free kick in Scottish Cup history. It would be a further twenty six years before another goal was scored from a direct free kick, when Morton scored against Rangers in the 1948 Cup Final.)

This spurred Morton on to play a great defensive game to finish one - nil victors, making the club the winners of the 1922 Scottish Cup Final. However, as the club had expected to lose they never bothered to bring any celebratory materials with them, Rangers on the other hand had brought champagne to celebrate what they thought would be an easy victory. In the end it was the Morton players who lifted the Scottish Cup, and toasted their victory with their opponents champagne. 

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